Thursday, June 02, 2011

Grace on a Thursday: in Andrea's words

Happy Thursday, friends! Today my friend Andrea is sharing how she's grabbing some Grace on a Thursday. Here's a picture of her that I stole off her blog. She has good taste, people.

We share a love for fashion, we each have a big girl and a little guy, and we both have the same yellow thermal she's sporting in a couple recent posts :). All kidding aside, I love Andrea's teachable heart. She is an intentional woman, trying her best to seize the sweet moments of her days, and be the best version of herself that she can be throughout the rest. I seriously love her message today. It is so speakin' my language in my life right now. You should follow her blog, too, because she gives excellent advice on fashion, food, and family, and she inspires her readers to take chances, inside and out. Andrea, I'm into your program. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. 

"I had never practiced.  Practiced until it became the second nature, the first skin.  Practice is the hardest part of learning, and training is the essence of transformation.  Practice, practice, practice."  Ann Voskamp - One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Hi Top of the Page readers, I'm Andrea from Four Flights of Fancy.  I was originally going to tell you the story of me recently resigning from my job, leaving behind a career and industry that I loved for so many years.  Talk to you about how I knew deep down it was my purpose and my calling to be a full time mother.  But the harder I tried to work it out, the more I knew that is not the story I am meant to tell today.  As much as people try to make it about faith and religion, my own journey of becoming a stay at home mom is not just about that, and is still unraveling.  So today I will tell you another story, one that happened very recently to me.  It's about slowing down, taking it all in, all of God's goodness, and letting go of anger, the anger over silly little things that try to eat at you every day.   

We were in Yosemite on a camping trip with a group of 40 people.  Nothing particularly bad had happened on the trip, but I just wasn't feeling in the zone, if you will.  I was a little cranky and irritable, even in the midst of unbelievable surroundings.  My husband and I had been snapping at each other and well, just not being nice.  It was our second full day in camp and we all decided to take a hike to a place called Mirror Lake.

As we started the hike, we took a quick break from the group to eat our lunch and told them we'd catch up with them at the lake.  As we started on our journey, we realized the path split off in two directions, one path looked like a smooth steady uphill hike on a paved road, and the other path, what we came to find out, was the horse trail.  After a little deliberation we decided to venture on the horse path, saying to the kids it would be more exciting and interesting.  It was interesting, exciting, intense, and filled with horse dung all throughout.  But we trekked on and for the most part we were all in a great mood, stopping along the way to explore big rocks and caves.  I was slowly starting to come out of my funk and enjoy the trip.

The stream stopped and we realized that we were at Mirror Lake.  But we were on the other side, the wrong side of our group.  On the other side of the lake, the smooth paved road had led the members of our group to a picturesque side of the lake with a huge sand barge and giant rocks perfect for climbing on.  We could see the kids laughing and running around and climbing the big rocks.  On our side, we got to see the same picturesque scenery but we were, in a sense, land locked.  The lake on our side bordered a fast rushing stream, too dangerous to even attempt to get into.  I rushed up ahead of my family, frantically looking for a way to get to the other side, but found nothing.  I asked several groups of hikers and they all confirmed, there was no way to get to the other side.      

It sounds so silly even to me now as I retell this story, but I started to get angry, really angry.  I huffed back to my family and started raising my voice to my husband.  I said to him, "Why can't we ever take the easy road?  Why do we ALWAYS have to make things harder for ourselves?  Now the kids can't see their friends and they won't have any fun damnit!"  I was letting this hike, this choosing of the wrong path somehow become a representation of all the wrong choices we had ever made in our lives together.  I went on for a few minutes like this, but I don't need to relive all the gory details.

He stared back at me in shock and said calmly, "If you stop and look, it seems the kids are having plenty of fun right here."

I did stop and I did look around.  I saw this amazing meadow in the middle of the valley.  

I was surrounded by God's gifts and His beauty, yet I was filled with anger over something so inconsequential.  I realized that I was being given an opportunity to learn, and so I took it.  It seems that the older I get in this life, in this skin of mine, the more opportunities I am finding to learn.  It turns out that after a few minutes of me rambling on about how we couldn't get to the other side, one of Taylor's friends who had come along with us, caught on.  She said, "This hike was a total waste of time!"  The words of a six year old hit me hard.

I knelt down and started talking to the kids about all the great things we got to see on the path we chose.  We saw horses and rocks and caves and birds galore, and we climbed over steep hills and ran down sharp slopes.  We found a huge tree trunk to walk back and forth across to get to this beautiful meadow.  We had an adventure and it was grand. The words at first did not come easily.  I felt a lump in my throat as I said them, but the more I talked with them the easier the words came.  I was practicing being thankful.  I was practicing being in the moment, the here and now.  I was practicing appreciation and accepting every experience as a chance to learn and see something new.  Practice, practice, practice.

This practice thing comes hard for me.  Practicing thankfulness, accepting the lessons He has to teach me.  I didn't grow up in a church, and even now I feel so far behind the rest of my Christian friends sometimes.  I don't know scripture and I don't have all the books of the Bible memorized.  I got so nervous when Leslie asked me to guest post.  I don't blog about faith very often because the words don't always come so easily to me.  The words are often messy and hard, not soft and light, and they're usually deliberate, not subtle.  But they are my words nonetheless, and my heart, and it's open for the taking.  I am practicing hard every day to take as many moments as I can and turn them into chances to learn Grace, to accept Grace, and to let so much of the anger in me go.  It is a struggle, but the rewards are well worth it.

In case you're wondering, after we all got over the "wasted hike" we found a quiet little stream on the rocky trail back and took off our shoes and threw rocks in the water till our hearts were content.  The kids indeed had a grand time after all :)

Thanks for having me Leslie.


  1. Andrea, everything you said speaks to me. I am very similar. And just so you know, I grew up going to church and have been a Christian for a long time but I still feel behind and find it difficult to write and speak about my faith in a smooth fashion. : ) Thanks for sharing something so personal and close to your heart.

  2. thanks for sharing, andrea. isn't it wonderful, that god is so gracious to us as we practice?! xo

  3. Beautifully said, Andrea. Too often I get caught up in the heat of the moment, and I'm completely lost to the blessings and the beauty that surround me. It's a daily struggle no matter how long you've been a Christian, and the practicing -- the constant sense of awe at the grace -- is probably our only hope of recognizing what surrounds us. Thanks for that reminder. :)

  4. I don't think words about faith need to be soft and light. Sometimes, often, it is the hardest, messiest stuff that reaches out and touches others because it is real.
    I am much more drawn to people who admit they throw down a cuss word now and then rather than the others who you can;t imagine ever raising their voices or messing up.
    Honesty and sincerity go so far Andrea.
    I loved this post. Thank you for being real.
    Love form,

  5. Andrea, I felt like I was reading a story about myself. Although I have come along way I still find myself getting angry at small inconveniences or when something isn't going my way. What I'm most thankful for is God knows my heart and he knows I don't want that to be my reaction and he has so much patience with me. Glad you all had fun in the end and those pictures are beyond beautiful!

  6. That is a beautiful reminder. Sometimes I get so grouchy when things don't go according to my plan, but then I realize when I'm doing that I forget to notice that God's plan was better all along. Thanks for sharing the story and the amazing pics!

  7. Thanks everyone for the very kind words and welcome to Leslie's blog. And Greta, I was literally raised by a truck driver so unfortunately I throw down a cuss word too often but I'm working on it ;)